The issue of minors being prosecuted like adults in Michigan has been a source of controversy for decades. The idea behind this notion, is that by treating juveniles as adults, we ensure that they receive stiffer sentences that are more proportional to their crimes, and as such, we lower the rate of juvenile crimes. However, juvenile crime is on the rise all over Michigan, including in Lansing, Howell, and Battle Creek, which means no matter how serious the threat of punishment is, it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
Studies show that juvenile crime rates aren’t affected by low prosecutable ages
So far, there have only been two studies done on how stricter laws regarding the age at which juveniles could be prosecuted as adults, had any effect on the juvenile crime rate. In one of those studies, criminologists Simon Singer and David McDowell evaluated the effects of New York’s Juvenile Offender Law on the rate of serious juvenile crime in the state.
In 1978 New York lowered the age of criminal court jurisdiction to thirteen for Murder, and to fourteen for Rape, Robbery, Assault, and violent categories of Burglary. In this and the other study, which was conducted in Philadelphia, showed that there was NO evidence to suggest that adult criminal sanctions had any effect on juvenile crime rates.
Michigan currently prosecutes juveniles as adults for certain crimes
Current Michigan law requires 17-year-olds to automatically be prosecuted as adults if they break the law. This includes both non- violent and violent offenses. However, there is a slowly rising backlash here in Michigan, against our state’s laws that allow charging minors as adults. And in Oakland County, nine commissioners have banded together and joined the fight, signing a resolution in support of legislation aimed at ‘raising the age.’ It’s also notable that for some crimes, kids younger than 17 years of age can be prosecuted as adults. These are called “waiver cases” in Michigan and they apply only to the most serious felonies.
However, raising the age doesn’t come without its own challenges. Changing the law may be one part of it, but the state would incur a lot of added expenses, as they process a considerable number of 17 year olds through the juvenile system. Although the commissioners addressed that issue as well in their resolution, urging legislators to adopt workable funding mechanisms through MDHHS that would cover any additional costs associated with increasing the juvenile court jurisdiction age to 18.
Is the age for being prosecuted as an adult going to be raised to 18 in Michigan?
In February of 2018, Senate Bills 92, 95, and 102 were introduced in the Michigan Senate, sponsored by Oakland County‘s Helaine Zack, D-Huntington Woods. The bills are part of a larger package of “Raise the Age” bills working their way through the senate. So far the package has received wide bipartisan support, as it not only aims to raise the age at which people can be prosecuted as adults to 18, but would also keep juveniles out of adult jails and prisons.
Few things are harder on a family than having a young son or daughter (or grandchild) prosecuted as an adult. Knowing that the child you love is being treated like an adult in court when they’re not fully mature yet is rough. Knowing they are faced with time behind bars in an adult prison where they would be extremely vulnerable is heartbreaking. But you don’t have to walk this road alone. Call The Kronzek Firm right now at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) and talk to one of our experienced juvenile criminal defense attorneys. We’ve helped countless young people protect their futures over the years, and we can help you too.